Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I first heard of the P-90 from watching Stargate SG-1 and saw it and assumed that the firearm was fictitious. I saw it as something like the BFG from Doom or those guns shaped like mailboxes that Cable tended to wield in the nineties. My assumptions that it didn't actually exist were reinforced by a reference that Richard Dean Anderson made to the weapon on an appearance on the Wayne Brady Show, referring to in such a manner that it wasn't something a child would run across or that the presence of that particular weapon on the show was something that distanced the program from real life enough that his kids would not make a violent connection. Obviously I misinterpreted, but Mr. Anderson's statement wasn't entirely clear to begin with.

Awhile back, and quite some time after Mr. Anderson's statement, I was surprised to discovers that P-90s were real. The FN P90 is a submachine gun, designed to balance the needs of an ammo load, with size, compactness, weight, and accuracy. The Arms Site puts it this way:
Military organizations have struggled for generations with two frequently overlapping problems: (1) how to arm troops whose primary mission is something other than the use of small arms; and (2) how to arm troops who need compact firepower for conducting special operations. A remarkable array of pistols, submachind guns and carbines have been fielded over the years in an, attempt to give people such as vehicle drivers, operators of crew-served weapons, support personnel and special operators a weapon with the optimum mix of compact size, hit probability, sustained firepower and terminal ballistics. Recent decades have also seen a similar quest in law enforcement to provide superior sidearms and auxiliary weapons for officers facing a changing tactical environment. The result is that sidearms, submachine guns and carbines developed for the aforementioned special military needs have become widely used tools within law enforcement. One of the most provocative attempts to solve the common requirements of both the military and law enforcement is the select-fire P90 Personal Defense Weapon designed and manufactured by Fabrique National Herstal SA of Belgium.
In other words it's a gun for non-infantry that is still effective for killing people wearing protective gear. This weapon appears to be so awesome I'm surprised that I have not run across it in more fiction.
The FN P90 submachine gun (SMG) was developed in the late 1980s as a defensive weapon for the troops whose primary activities does not include small arms - vehicle and tank crew members, artillery crews etc. Standart pistols and SMGs chambered for pistol rounds were proved ineffective against enemy soldiers, wearing armour (bulletproof) vests, so FN Herstal developed a new round with enhanced penetration - the SS190. This round looks like scaled downt 5.56mm NATO round and forces the pointed, steel core bullet to the 600-700 meters per second at the muzzle, thus being capable to defeat standart CRISAT helmets and armour vests at reasonable distances (50-100 meters).
Suddenly I wish to own one. I don't think it's possible.

The P90 is the ultimate system for operating in urban and other close-quarter battle scenarios. This system is built around our revolutionary FN 5.7 x 28mm ammunition. It utilizes the SS190 armor piercing duty round, but since the dual core destabilizes on impact, overpenetration is unlikely. The P90 provides a compact, lightweight and completely ambidextrous platform for this ammunition. The 50 round magazine runs horizontally across the top of the P90, keeping it compact and empty casings are ejected downward, where they cannot interfere with the user. The P90 fires from a closed bolt, giving it outstanding accuracy and making it easy to keep on target. Ideal personal defense weapon for armored vehicles or helicopter crews. Perfectly fitted for law enforcement tactical teams. Other P90 configurations include the P90 Triple Rail, P90 Laser Visible, P90 Infrared (IR), P90 USG and the P90 USG IR. The Triple Rail and Standard are also available in semi-automatic.The Five-seveN pistol, also chambered for 5.7 x 28mm, is an excellent companion to the P90.
From the description at that site and my two other primary resources I'm not entirely certain I understand why Colonel O'Neil and the others in the SGC have used this as the primary weapon considering how most of the time following Gate-Travel is hiking, walking, and running. Then again much of what I see on the show resembles depictions of resl-life urban combat, and the United States Air Force acts, in real life,as a consultant for the program; I trust these are the right weapons.

I cannot afford to purchase a civilian model P90. "The PS90 is the only civilian legal version", and it costs upward of $1,489.99! That is the "On Sale" price and it's for the long-barreled version. The short barrel model costs $510 more. If I desire to purchase another firearm for sport or protection I wouldn't spend two grand on a watered-down civilian version of a kick-ass military-class firearm when I can get a Glock, any other handgun, or even purchase another shotgun or rifle. All of those choices are far less expensive and are just as reliable for tearing stuff up.

I find it fascinating, for no particular reason, that the manufacture of the weapon is Belgian and even that it was the Belgians that invented it. On the other hand my resources don't list it as common use by the American military, instead Modern Firearms lists the use "by Saudi Arabia, Peruan Special Forces and some special units of Thailand army, and offered for export by FN." Perhaps I assume too much, or perhaps for the ASAF the use of the FN P90 as a standard issue weapon is as fictional a concept and as fictionalized of an institution as the Stargate Command.

My primary sources are
The last one, ultimately, is a product pagem but an informative and useful one. The middle one is a reprint of a weapon review.

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